I really wonder why anyone would join a trade union given the tendency of the officials to use the dues to engage in various pet projects and support political parties.
Of course, some unions do handle individual grievances pretty well and members get some real benefits at that point. (I recall an instance at Flinders University where the local NTEU provided excellent service to one of my colleagues.)
But of course when it comes to collective bargaining, the better performing staff get dudded unless they can do a separate individual deal on the side (which is, ironically, very common at universities given their public posturings).
Some unions do put out misinformation about the need to join up – nurses, for instance, are told they need the personal indemnity insurance product offered by the union whereas the vast majority of nurses will be indemnified by their employer.
But here is a story from Queensland which could be another file for the upcoming Royal Commission into union governance and corruption (check out the names: Together Union???):
ONE of Queensland’s biggest industrial unions has funnelled $7.5 million of member funds into a company to circumvent the Newman Government’s crackdown on political campaigns.
The union-controlled slush fund is now being used to bankroll a political campaign against the Newman Government while sidestepping its tough new“union transparency” laws.
Together union boss Alex Scott said he had legal advice that the union funds – representing 10 years worth of union fees – was out of reach of the new union laws because the money was transferred before the legislation was enacted by State Parliament.
The $7.5 million was rolled over from Queensland’s Together union to a fund held by the Australian Services Union before being placed into the company Working for Queenslanders Limited.
Working for Queenslanders is controlled by three directors: Together secretary Alex Scott, president Vivienne Doogan and assistant secretary Julie Bignell.
Working for Queenslanders was established after the controversial Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) Bill was introduced into State Parliament last April, but before it was passed by the house.
The laws force unions to publicly declare spending and the income of union bosses.
Workers from the Together Union protest outside Parliament House.
Unions are also forced to ballot all members and receive majority support before they can legally spend more than $10,000 on a particular political campaign or purpose in a year.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie pushed “anti-avoidance” amendments through State Parliament last August to stop what he described as a “flagrant” and “sneaky” attempt to flout the new laws by setting up Working for Queenslanders.
The measures attempted to capture companies classed as “associates” of unions under the laws.
But Mr Scott said it had legal advice that the changes could not shut down the company’spolitical campaign activities.
“The advice we have is that those tests mean Working for Queenslanders isn’t an associated entity,” Mr Scott said.
“They (the Newman Government) have a long track record of making amendment after amendment because they rush legislation (through),”
Mr Bleijie said last night his department was investigating.
“We put these transparency laws in place to empower the hardworking, grassroots members of industrial organisations and give them a chance to have a say on how their membership fees were being spent,” Mr Bleijie said.
But Mr Scott said the $7.5 million was transferred after members approved the move in a ballot.
He said the money had been collected from members for a public sector defence fund over and above their union fees.
The fighting fund was used last year to fund polling ahead of the February 22 Redcliffe by-election and for advertisements attacking the state’s anti-bikie laws.
Meanwhile, Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Mohle has denied that a new $1 a week levy on its members was a “rally fee,” saying the fee was a fund for “community engagement activities”.
She said the new fee, to come into effect from July 1 was for a new Nurse Power fund to support the union’s campaigning, organising and community engagement activities.
She said the sum would be maintained for the specific purpose of raising and improving awareness of nursing and midwifery issues and the profession, advancing nursing and midwives pay and conditions, advocating for adequate funding for the health system and other community activities.